Study in Crimson by Robert J. Harris

Using the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movies as a basis, this updated Sherlock Holmes mystery is set during WWII and features a killer who echoes the grisly crimes of Jack the Ripper.

A Study in Crimson: Sherlock Holmes 1942 by Robert J. Harris
Pegasus Crime
Paperback | $15.95
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Using the beloved film adaptations of the famous sleuth starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as a template, the author updates settings and events in this series. The feel is similar to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock and Watson but with an emphasis on World War II, as were some of the movies we all know so well. A respectful tone has been maintained and it seems few Holmes fans will find fault with this method of expanding the tales loved by generations. In fact, the estimable doctor W. is depicted in a far more positive light than he was in the cinema adaptation which made him out to be something of a fool, a characterization Doyle did not create.


A brutal killer has been strangling and mutilating women in London. If this sounds familiar, it is. In what is believed to be a series of copycat murders emulating those of Jack the Ripper, the name “Crimson Jack” has been scrawled at the scene of these despicable killings. Holmes and Watson are brought in by Lestrade of Scotland Yard to put an end to these frightening crimes before the citizenry of the city, already rattled by the blitz and the ongoing war in Europe react with even greater fear and panic. A brash American reporter and a foreign agent employed by the United States government pitch in and add their diverse skills to the hunt.


It is a completely satisfying and page-turning mystery/thriller in the great tradition of the original books and stories. Contemporaneous language and historical references that place the narrative clearly in the war years echo the cinematic adaptations quite accurately, a device that works well and conjures the images of Rathbone and Bruce in the reader’s mind. It’s a great deal of fun for Holmes fans and mystery lovers of any kind.